Channeling My Inner Father-in-law

My father-in-law is a world class gift wrapper, followed by a professional package assembler. If you ever get a box in the mail from him everything is perfect wrapped, with protection to keep bows fluffy and air pillows holding everything in place so no shifting/crushing will take place, no matter what gorilla is delivering it.

I have received many a gift wrapped in bubble wrap, placed inside a gift box, wrapped in gift paper, adorned with two kinds of ribbons and bows, placed inside a sturdier box, wrapped in a plastic bag for wet protection, wrapped in more bubble and placed inside a reinforced card board box. He really should work for Waterford Crystal. If a gift called for it, I am certain he would carve foam to perfectly fit the item and the box. Thankfully I try and never request a breakable gift fearing the amount of work that would go into the wrapping.

Carter left a few things at home that I promised I would mail her. They were a mixed bag. One was a very heavy cutting board. Another was a delicate large sign and the rest were kitchen items and two sweaters. All together it would be much to heavy to go in one box and I feared the cutting board would crush everything else.

So I channeled my father-in-law, Marty and created a custom sized box for the cutting board in one parcel, another custom box for the sign and all the rest in a third box with all the sharp knives wrapped in bags and put inside a second box. Marty would be proud of my effort although it still didn’t match his in that my taping was not as precise as his.

Wrapping and sending boxes is a lost art. I would rather let Amazon do the work for me, but then sometimes you have to send special stuff. At least when I wrap it and send it myself I can put a note and a surprise in the box.

Next up, the actual mailing. Oh Joys!

My Watch

I was an early adopter of the Apple Watch. I wanted it from the moment it was introduced, which was months before it was actually available. Russ is always thrilled if there is an Apple product I am interested in because that means he has a gift idea well before a gifting occasion. Every birthday and Christmas he quizzes me about the condition of all my Apple products. I don’t need the newest, so he is often disappointed when I say my five year old iPad still works perfectly and I don’t want a new one.

This summer my friend told me about the face of her Apple Watch falling off. Since I have had my watch since it was just called “Apple Watch,” (no version numbers when you are the first one) I was looking out for this issue. Sure enough, today as I was entering my password on the face after just putting the watch on I felt a little give on the face. I tried again and I could see the face move. Shoot. I love my original Apple Watch.

Russ made an appointment with the Genius Bar. I knew how this was going to go. My very old watch is years out of warranty and the cost to fix was probably higher than a newer version would cost. We entered the Apple store and it was like Noah’s ark with pairs of every race and nationality on earth waiting in the store. Eventually a non-genius came to help us. I was right. No need to fix it. Russ was sorry it hadn’t broken in November, when he could justify a new watch as a Christmas present.

I thanked the guy and told Russ I would do my best to baby my watch and hope it holds out. Russ wanted to look at the new watches on display. I was shocked that my stainless steel watch, which was the cheapest version when I got it is now a very expensive version, $300 more than the aluminum version, but still cheaper than titanium or ceramic. I quit paying attention at that point.

I hate that I love this watch so much. I had stopped wearing a watch when I stopped working until the Apple Watch came along and now it is hard to go down to the kitchen and get iced tea in the morning without my watch on. Damn you Apple for making me love you.

Home Again, Home Again, Gigitty Gig.

I love a good trip. I just spent four days in the mountains with my Mom, Aunt and Uncle. My mother has gone on this trip every year for years, but now I am included to be the driver.

My summer travels were few this year as I chose to stay home and work on my house instead. So a little fall travel is making up for my lost summer. It is just harder to go away in the fall because fall is really the start of the new year and there are things to do, as opposed to summer when being away is normal.

Whether it’s spring, summer, fall or winter when I go away I am always happiest to come home. It doesn’t matter if I was on the best trip to Italy or Paris, or Paris, Texas I am always ready to come home to my own bed, my puppy and my family. Even if my family was with me on the trip.

This week Russ had a big work week so Shay went to stay with her caretaker, Mary. Shay loves to visit Mary. There are almost always other dogs visiting Mary too and Shay has buddies to play with. Even though Mary reports that Shay sleeps with her, Shay comes home exhausted.

Today we both were tired from being away. I picked her up from Mary’s and she jumped up on my bed at home and we took a nap together. No one was home to catch us napping. It was the perfect refresher.

Then Russ came home and took me out to dinner. What a wonderful way to renter life at home. No wonder I love coming home after a trip.

I Love My Aunt Edie

When I was little I always thought my Aunt Edie was the coolest Aunt. She was a successful woman in the sixties in New York which was so different than the other grown women I knew, who were all just mothers. She had interesting friends and travelled which is all I ever wanted to do.

Sadly she was busy and I got busy and I just didn’t get to spend much time with her as a I got older. She and my Uncle Bill moved to Florida and raised their three sons there. Every once in a while I would see Edie at my Grandmother’s or when she might visit my mother, but it wasn’t much.

As luck would have it I am seeing her three times in the space of five weeks. Russ, Carter and I visited Eddie and Bill one night a few weeks back. Now I have been with them with my mother for four days and at the end of the month we are all going to Edie and Bill’s youngest son, Winston’s wedding.

I have treasured this time. Her sense of humor and her faith make her a delight to spend time with. Today we went to the BRAHM museum in Blowing Rock. She and I got to laughing about some of the commentary on the paintings as we found the same comments on middle-aged women hysterical. Edie always makes sure you never miss the sunset as she appreciates the beauty of this great earth so much.

I am so thankful to have gotten this time with her, though it makes me a little sad for all the years we didn’t spend time together. I am going to have to make sure this changes.

Changing September 11th

The whole country mourns on September 11th. It is a day that will always be sad in my lifetime, but now for more than just the horrible attacks, but because it is the day my mother’s second sister Susan passed away last year. When it happened I didn’t really register that it was September 11th, mostly because I didn’t expect it to happen. But now, a year out, the day of national and personal mourning merges into one.

My dear boarding school roommate, Nancy, lost her brother Peter on the same day a year ago. It makes it hard just think about your own loved one when the whole country is thinking about the big communal loss we suffered together.

It helped to remember Susan today by being with my mother and my Aunt Edie, the youngest sister. My mother was only two years older than Susan so they shared lots of the same memories. Edie is ten years younger so she does not always know all the names of every person my mother wants to talk about from her childhood. Nonetheless, Edie has been so good to my mother and I am glad they were together today.

It wasn’t that it was a day of sadness as much as a day of togetherness. We had a lovely breakfast and Edie and mom did a little shopping and I got to sit on the porch with Uncle Bill enjoying the Mountains. Uncle Bill is 90, but you wouldn’t know it. I said to him after lunch, as we walked to the car, “You have good eye sight, great hearing, a fabulous memory, we should study you.” And he followed up with, “And a great head of hair.” I guess I should have started with, “a wonderful sense of humor.”

We had lunch outdoors and the a nice walk and time sitting in chairs by a beautiful lake. Afterwards Edie drove us around to see the gorgeous houses with the best mountain view’s and we went back to the house to play bridge. Before we played Edie and Mom called Susan’s husband Hank and everyone said how much they missed and loved Susan. It was a good day of remembrance, one I was glad to be included in.

Driving Miss Janie

My mother is independent. She likes to go where she wants to go and when she wants to go and with whom she wants to go. At over 80 she does fairly well with all this going, as long as she is going in good light. Her eyesight sometimes has trouble, especially in darkness. You can plan on driving in the daytime to have light, unless there is a big storm and then sometimes it gets dark, even in the daytime.

Her sister Edie and her husband Bill come to North Carolina and stay for a few months every summer and my mother likes to visit them. It’s a good three plus hour drive for my mother to get to the mountains to their house. This year I volunteered to drive, just in case there was a rain storm in the day time.

Going on a trip with my mother is always a learning experience for me. I get to hear many stories about her childhood, a favorite topic, followed up by the second favorite topic, questions for me about technology. Coming in a close third is the stock market.

Today’s trip followed the usual pattern. I learned information about relatives three, four and five generations back from me. We talked all about all her childhood neighbors which included my mother quizzing her much younger sister about her recollections about said neighbors. A new bit of information I learned is that they had a one next door neighbor family who they hated. The details about why were sketchy, but it involved dogs pooping in the wrong yards and they neither my mother, nor Aunt could remember exactly whose dogs were at fault.

My favorite technology portion of the day was when my mother thought she could lock her car with just her finger. She does have a car that has a capability to do that as long as you have the key nearby, but my mother thought she really only needed her finger. Unfortunately her key was inside the house. No magic finger on my mother.

Then we did discuss the stock market, a topic my Aunt is also and expert in. It makes me nervous when my mother tells me she is in risky stuff, but she assured me she can ride out ups and downs. I guess she is planning on sticking around at least another fifteen years.

I guess am going to have to be driving her a lot more, and carrying the key so she can lock the door with just her finger. Some technology conversations just don’t stick, not like family folklore stories.

Hope, Joy and Peace

With all the discourse in the world right now; Bahamian Dorian refuges who can’t get out of their devastated country because they don’t have a visa, North Carolina Outer Banks communities without power and the one road that connects them all together, all things Taliban and so on and so on, we need something unifying.

I am nominating this small squirrel, who stopped to smell the flower as the symbol of hope, Joy and peace we all need right now. The sight of this sweet animal enjoying our glorious world is what we all should be doing.

If it weren’t so hot, I would don a squirrel costume and go around with a giant yellow flower smelling it with the happiest look on my face just to spread good over evil. Of course if you saw me in a giant squirrel costume I am certain I would not elicit joy from people but perhaps concern.

So instead, enjoy this photo of the real life squirrel who has no idea all delight he is causing the world as he revels in the beauty of smelling a flower. The lesson for me is when there is so much crap all around you, stop and close your eyes and smell the flowers and enter the euphoric world God created for you.